Reaching his 40th birthday in 1980, John Lenon wrote and sang: Life begins at 40. Little did he realise that 20 years later another famous Austrian singer Udo Juergen, to the delight of all who had crossed 65, would sing, Life begins at 66, a hit in year 2000. Would one be surprised if someone else as famous would come along and sing, “Life begins at 75/80”? And why not?
Little wonder then that last year when I touched 66, living in Udo Juergen’s land, my parishoners cheered me, singing, “As soon as the stress is over I will actually have a lot of fun, o-ho, o-ho, o-ho; I’ll blow-dry my remaining hair pretty cool, o-ho, o-ho, o-ho. And when the people look at me indignant and strict; I’ll tell them: ‘My dear mates, you are way too strict! Life really begins when you’re 66! When you’re 66 you have fun living. When you’re 66 you just start going! When 66, you’re far from the end...’”
A few months later, on Easter Monday doing a religious duty, “the Emmaus Walk”, as it is called, an alarm bell while climbing a hillock, warned me to call on the doctor. He in turn referred me for further check ups. A month before my 67th birthday, which happens to fall this weekend, I was being wheeled into the theatre for stents implantation in the heart. Before that, however, the doctor had explained to me that since the arteries supplying blood to my heart had narrowed or shrunk, they needed broadening for proper blood supply to the heart.
I am no lyricist or singer. But assured of good medical treatment in Vienna and hence free of all worries, my thoughts, while waiting for my turn to be laid on the table, wandered leisurely. “Wow”, they went, “the heart it is where I experience God’s presence and his deep love. And a month before my 67th birthday, God is organising the broadening of my arteries to receive a more steady flow of his presence and love. He is preparing me, both physically and spiritually, to begin anew to be aware and to enjoy old and newer gifts of life. What have I done my Lord to deserve such generosity from you?”
Suddenly my heart was filled with unspeakable gratitude to God, reminding me that as I enter my life’s final phase with a new beginning at 67, my heart needs nothing but clearer tuning to my creator. I need to dive into the ocean of God’s unconditional love that he so genuinely expressed while stretching his arms for me on the cross at calvary.
For the rest of us though, the question is, if one should or need really wait for stents to receive better flow of God’s presence and love?